Wales facing a ‘must-win game’ against France in Six Nations

Sam Warburton said yesterday he relishes the type of pressure that will accompany Wales in Saturday’s Six Nations clash against France.
Captain Sam Warburton says Wales face a 'must-win game' against France in Round 3 on Saturday if they wish to keep their Six Nations trophy hopes alive. Stu Forster / Getty Images
Captain Sam Warburton says Wales face a 'must-win game' against France in Round 3 on Saturday if they wish to keep their Six Nations trophy hopes alive. Stu Forster / Getty Images

Sam Warburton said yesterday he relishes the type of pressure that will accompany Wales in Saturday’s Six Nations clash against France.

Wales’ hope of landing a third Six Nations title in four years were severely dented by losing at home to England 21-16 three weeks ago at Cardiff in the first match of the tournament.

The recovery process began by defeating Scotland 26-23 last time out.

Warburton and company today step onto the Stade de France pitch chasing a fourth successive victory over the French.

If they fail then the quest for Six Nations silverware will effectively become a three-way battle between England, Ireland and France.

“I love playing under pressure,” said Warburton, who equals Ryan Jones’s Wales record this weekend by captaining Wales for a 33rd time.

“I would much rather have a game like this one against France. It is a must-win game.

“There is a lot more tension on the training ground, but it’s a good energy. It’s a really enjoyable Test week to be involved in to have a top team like France coming up at the weekend. It’s a massive challenge.

“It will be an awesome game. I’ve only played 15-20 minutes out in France because I got injured four years ago, and two years ago I missed it because of a nerve problem in my shoulder, so I am really looking forward to it because I’ve never had a good hit out in Paris.”

Something will have to give for winless Scotland when they go up against Italy, who have also lost both their opening two games, at Murrayfield.

The Scots are on a run of four successive home defeats in the Six Nations, their worst in the championship since 1977-79. A fifth defeat would be their longest losing streak since the dark days of 1951-54, when they lost seven championship games in a row at Murrayfield.

Italy have not won in the Six Nations, home or away, since a 22-15 success against Ireland in Rome on the last day of the 2013 championship.

Of Italy, Vern Cotter, the Scotland coach, said: “It’s a great test for us. We saw what Italy did to the Irish forward pack. I thought they knocked them around.

“They scored three tries against the English at Twickenham. These things did not go unnoticed. We’re preparing very seriously for this game.”

England have announced two changes for their game with Ireland on Sunday at Dublin.

The clash of this tournament’s two unbeaten sides, will see Alex Goode come in for the injured Mike Brown at full-back, while Jack Nowell replaces Jonny May on the wing.

“Both have been pushing hard for selection,” England coach Stuart Lancaster said. “I’m sure they will seize their chance against a high quality Ireland side.”

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Published: February 27, 2015 04:00 AM

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